The Silver Queen name was used both in England and America. George M. Hendee was a cycle racing champion; on retirement from racing, he started the Hendee & Nelson Mfg Co at 478 Main St, Springfield, Mass, building safety bicycles using the name Silver King for his men’s range and Silver Queen for women. After bankruptcy, he bought the inventory and started again using the name Hendee Mfg Co. This time his bicycles were named Indian. By 1912, Hendee Mfg Co was the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer. Hendee subsequently licensed the Monark Cycle Co of Chicago to use the name Silver King, which became one of America’s most innovative models in the 1930s.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in jolly olde England, and predating the American bicycle of the same name, The Silver Queen Cycle Co had been established since 1886, with its head office at 221 Tottenham Court Rd, London. The factory was in Liverpool. The Silver Queen name was used for the company’s ladies’ bicycles, with Royal Ajax for their gents’ machines.
The Silver Queen Cycle Co catalogue presented here is from 1899, but the bicycle is from 1901: observe the twin bridges in the loopframe, which do not feature in the 1899 catalogue; it has a post-1900 brake too.
This Victorian lady’s safety bicycle is a lone survivor of its marque; its indirect association with the first Indian bicycles made by Hendee Mfg Co. adds to its interest. Steve McQueen owned a Hendee Silver King, but I’m not sure if there are any surviving examples of the American Silver Queen?
1901 Silver Queen Lady’s Safety
Observe that the ‘Foreign & Colonial’ supply list includes freight charges to Canada, but not America.
SILVER KING & QUEEN
…but who was the Victorian beauty adorning Silver Queen bicycles?